Le Jeune, Henry (DNB12)

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LE JEUNE, HENRY (1819–1904), historical and genre painter, born in London on 12 Dec. 1819, was of Flemish extraction, being the third of the five children of Anthony Le Jeune. His grandfather, his father, and his brothers were professional musicians. His brothers occupied posts as organists at Farm Street, and Sardinian and Moorfields chapels. His sister gave up music for. photography, at which she worked nearly all her life at Naples; Garibaldi was among her sitters. Le Jeune himself showed pronounced musical tastes, but at an early age he evinced a desire to become an artist, and was sent to study at the British Museum. In 1834 he was admitted as a student at the Royal Academy schools; there, after obtaining four silver medals in succession, he was awarded the gold medal in 1841 for his painting of 'Samson bursting his Bounds,' which was shown at the British Institution in the following year. He first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1840, sending a picture of 'Joseph interpreting the Dream of Pharaoh's Chief Butler.' In 1847 the Prince Consort purchased his 'Liberation of the Slaves.'

From 1845 to 1848 he was headmaster of the morning class at the government school of design at Somerset House, and from 1848 until 1864 curator of the painting school of the Royal Academy, an office which included the duty of giving instruction in painting. In 1863 he was elected an A.R. A., but he never attained the rank of academician. In 1886 he became an honorary retired associate.

Le Jeune painted both in oil and water-colour. He exhibited eighty-four pictures at the Royal Academy between 1840 and 1894, twenty-one at the British Institution between 1842 and 1863, and a few at other galleries. The subjects of his earlier paintings were principally derived from the Bible, Shakespeare, or Spenser, and included 'The Infancy of Moses,' 'Una and the Lion' (1842), 'Prospero and Miranda' (1844), 'Ruth and Boas' (1845), and 'The Sermon on the Mount' (1851). Subsequently he devoted him- self to child subjects, and it was as a painter of children that he was mainly known. His figures are well grouped, gracefully drawn, and carefully finished. To the later phase of his work belong 'Little Red Riding Hood' (1863), 'The Wounded Robin' (1864), 'Little Bo-Peep' (1873 and 1881), and 'My Little Model' (1875). One of his best works was 'Much Ado about Nothing' (1873), a fishing party of three children seated catching minnows on an old river sluice. One of his early paintings of scriptural subjects, 'Ye Daughters of Israel, weep over Saul' (1846), is at the Royal Museum and Art Galleries, Feel Park, Salford. The Royal Holloway College, Egham, has one of his genre pictures, 'Early Sorrow' (1869); and another, his 'Children with Toy Boat,' is in the Manchester City Art Gallery. He painted a few portraits. Le Jeune always lived in London, and resided for over forty years at Hampstead. In his last years deafness largely withdrew him from society. He was keenly interested in chess problems. He died at 155 Goldhurst Terrace, Hampstead, N.W., on 5 Oct. 1904. and was buried at Kensal Green cemetery.

He married on 21 June 1844 Dorothy Lewis, daughter of James Dalton Lewis, by whom he had five sons and three daughters.

[Information kindly supplied by Miss F. Le Jeune; Art Journal (engravings, &c.), 1858, pp. 265-267, 1860, p. 36, 1867, p. 60, 1871, p. 236, 1874, p. 40; Illust. London News, 25 July 1863, pp. 80 (portrait), 94; Ottley, Dict. of Recent and Living Painters and Engravers; Men of the Time, 1865, p. 509; Clement and Hutton, Artists of the Nineteenth Century, ii. 55; G. H. Shepherd, Short Hist. of the British School of Painting, 96-7; Hodgson and Eaton, The Roy. Acad. and its Members, 362, 363, 385; A. G. Temple, Art of Painting in the Queen's Reign, 303; Müller und Singer, Allg. Künstler-Lexicon; Cats, of Art Galleries of Manchester City, Salford, and Royal Holloway College; Champlin and Perkins, Cyclopedia of Painters and Paintings, iii. 55 (portrait); Graves, Dict. of Artists, Roy. Acad, and British Institution; Athenæum, 15 Oct. 1904; Who's Who, 1905.]

B. S. L.